Comedy for Everyone

Brian Gaar is breaking into the big time — and he's filming a new comedy special right here in Austin

Austin comedian Brian Gaar is breaking into the big time

Brian Gaar Austin comedian
Brian Gaar is taking over Spider House Ballroom on September 20. Photo courtesy of Brian Gaar

When Brian Gaar released his first album, Never Gonna Be Famous, he had no idea if people would listen to it, let alone buy it. Within a day of its April release, the album was No. 2 on iTunes, thanks in no small part to Gaar's impressive Twitter following (Gaar was named one of Paste Magazine's best Twitter accounts of 2013) and plugs from famous fans including Will Arnett.

Though he's received national accolades and is a comedy scene staple here in town, the album was Gaar's first big project. Seeing his self-released album sitting on the charts among some of comedy's heavyweights, Gaar says, was stunning. "I did not expect it," says Gaar. "That [is] the best feeling in the world ... You're up there with your heroes and people like Patton Oswald and Jim Gaffigan and you see your little album up there." 

Never Gonna Be Famous garnered attention from more than just famous folks and comedy fans. It also grabbed the attention of a Los Angeles-based production company who approached Gaar about filming his very own comedy special, which he will do on Saturday, September 20 at Spider House Ballroom. 

To prep for the performance, the comedian is trying to stay sharp, and look sharp, too. "I did join the Y[MCA] last month and I've been a total of two times," he says, laughing. He's also done a few shows to "tune up," and is attending weekly open mic nights while balancing his job as reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. After filming, Gaar's special will be shopped around and hopefully sold to a service like Netflix.

His is a decidedly modern take on comedy, an industry that is increasingly seeing superstars rise in non-traditional ways. "It seems that it's better to build your own thing," he explains. "I think ... hoping to get on TV and hoping you get famous is a very old-fashioned way to think of it." In an age where Twitter celebrities like Kelly Oxford land book deals and webseries turn into Comedy Central sitcoms like Broad City, it is also an approach that makes sense.

That "build it and they will come" mentality extends to Gaar's decision to base his career in Austin a well. While many of his contemporaries are ditching the Live Music Capital of the World for the streets of, say, Brooklyn, Gaar sees no reason why he can't have the career he wants in Texas.

"The stand up scene, yeah, you hit a certain level of popularity and you go to New York and LA and I get that," says Gaar. "For me, I don't see why I can't do it here." 

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And on Saturday, you can watch Gaar do it right here when he takes over Spider House Ballroom for the filming of his special. Shows will be held at 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm. Tickets can be ordered in advance for $5 here or purchased at the door for $8. For more information, please go here